Gadgets to the Rescue

I have a love-hate relationship with gadgets. On the surface, I love technology, but I'm increasingly becoming a curmudgeon. It doesn't take me long to get frustrated when something doesn't work when it should, and I can already see reflections in myself when I remember how flummoxed my family would be with the VCR.

Anyway, that being said, I rarely go anywhere without some type of device, especially my phone, ostensibly because I take lots (and lots) of photos. I'm almost always connected in one way or another, and as a social media fan, I like being able to take pic, do some editing, and post it all from the side of the trail. I know, that's sacrilegious to some, but to each his own.

And while you could argue that no one needs to be "that" connected while out in nature, there are times when a connection could mean life or death, or at least the difference between a long walk home vs getting a ride.

With that in mind, here are a couple of options--some of which I use--that can get you connected to help when you need it.

The Phone--of all the wild and weird things that our phones can do, it's easy to forget that first and foremost they are designed to make calls. Need help? Call a friend. Need more help? Call 911. Assuming you've got decent coverage, you're golden. But no bars, no help.


Some of the iPhones now have S.O.S. coverage which means that you may not be able to make regular calls, but the phone will use a network to allow you to contact emergency services. You can even set the phone up to alert your emergency contacts after the call is completed. 

If you don't have good phone service coverage and/or you're REALLY out there, then maybe you need Spot. This is a satellite communication device that has subscription plans that provide coverage just about anywhere in the world, and you can also buy plans that will cover medical evacuations or vehicle assistance in places that AAA can't get to. 

The iPhone 14 also offers satellite connectivity, free first the first two years, and includes all manner of added features such as sending a transcript of your conversation with emergency services to your emergency contact(s) with a map of your location and additional details. 

Both the phone and the Spot devices require you to be able to access them and activate them, although maybe you could ask Siri to call for help if you couldn't reach your phone. 

There are other options that might be able to help if you're unconscious, and they fall under the "crash detection" or "incident detection" category.

It's not hard to have an accelerometer in a device and to program that device to recognize a sudden and abrupt stop. 

My Garmin Edge has "incident detection," as do many other Garmin products, and when it identifies a possible crash, a timer counts down, giving me time to cancel an alert. 

Similarly, my Apple Watch 8 has a "fall detection," that does the same thing. 

If I can't turn the alarm off in time, because I'm unconscious or incapacitated, it connects to my phone and alerts pre-selected emergency contacts with my GPS location. 

Both the Apple Watch and Garmin Edge (in my situation), need to be connected to my phone to work, but I wouldn't have to actually make the calls myself. 

Other products can do the same thing, including the Specialized ANGi and the Tocsen

I do a SIGNIFICANT amount of outdoor activities on my own, so having these options do add a bit of piece of mind. I also have both Strava and Garmin set up to let my wife know when I'm out riding or running or whatever, and she can follow along in real time. If my little GPS dot isn't moving for a while, she'll know I either found something cool to photograph or I'm face down in the dirt. Between you and me, I KNOW she's not home watching my GPS dot *slowly* move along some trails, so by the time she might realize I'm having a problem, having that location is really only going to be to find my carcass. 

And one last thing, speaking of finding my ass, I typically wear a RoadID bracelet, that way someone can call my wife and let her know to find the life insurance policy. 

Compared to the size and heft of GPS and communication devices of the past, my watch, my phone, and my Garmin unit really don't feel like anything. With that in mind, I might as well use the features they provide. 

If you've got something else that you use and love, let me know in the comments.

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